Manchester United gifted Spurs fans a giant Premier League trophy shaped favour on Sunday afternoon as Marcus Rashford led his side to 2-0 victory over rivals Chelsea.
The Blues had the bragging rights coming into the fixture, with Jose Mourinho having to endure a devastating 4-0 defeat on his belated return to Stamford Bridge last time the sides met.
Indeed little chance was handed to the Red Devil’s on this occasion, not only were the Blues the form side, they also had to cope without talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic after he was left on the bench following complaints of fatigue before kick-off.
Conte’s side wasn’t without casualties of their own. Thibaut Courtois was left out through injury with Asmir Begovic, a relative stranger in recent times to Premier League football, deputising. The title chasers also had steady eddy full-back Marcos Alonso hobble off during the warm up, with Kurt Zouma coming into the side.
United’s tempo was impressive from the off, with the home side grabbing the initiative, and indeed the opening goal after 7 game minutes. After Anders Herrera gained possession inside his own half with the use of his arm, accidental in the eyes of match referee Bobby Madley, the Spaniard sent a superbly timed through ball for the on-running Marcus Rashford.
The speed striker defied the defensive efforts of David Luiz to turn the ball past the onrushing Begovic to send the Old Trafford faithful into raptures.
Rashford could have doubled his side’s lead minutes after some quick build up play made mugs of Chelsea’s sluggish defensive efforts. This time the teenager fractionally mistimed his lunge and missed the ball entirely after Ashley Young had sent a fine cross into the box with the goal gaping.
Chelsea struggled to compose themselves throughout and, whilst the Spaniard’s aggression so often this season has worked in his favour, were brought down by the heavy anchor of United’s scrappy tactics with Diego Costa becoming visibly frustrated throughout.
The nail in the coffin for Chelsea came early in the second half when Anders Herrera’s powerful effort took a heavy deflection off Kurt Zouma into the visitors net. Leaving Begovic helpless and indeed hapless.
For a side that had led the league table by a huge 13 points just a month ago, it was all rather surprising to see David de Gea untroubled throughout.
Even more worrying for the legions of Chelsea fans that made the trip was the news that fellow Londoners Tottenham Hotspur capped off a fine 4-0 victory over Bournemouth, leaving them just 4 points off the summit. Knowing the Lilywhites are in frightening form, suddenly this season’s Premier League title is anything but a formality.
Manchester United on the other hand, whilst happy in the knowledge that they can compete with the division’s best, still sit 4 points off the Champions League positions.
Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Rojo, Bailly, Darmian; Fellaini, Herrera; Lingard (Carrick, 60′), Pogba, Young (Fosu-Mensah, 93′); Rashford (Ibrahimovic, 83′)
Chelsea: Begovic; Zouma (Loftus-Cheek, 83′), David Luiz, Cahill; Moses (Fabregas, 54′), Kante, Matic (Willian, 66′), Azpilicueta; Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard